Lung cancer symptoms can be mistaken for less serious medical conditions, but it’s strongly advised if you notice any of the signs to visit your GP straightaway.
A cough is one of the most common signs of lung cancer, but can be a sign of asthma, which is less serious.
But if you find yourself coughing up blood this could be an indicator of the disease.
When a lung cancer patient coughs up blood this is caused by bleeding in the airway. This can cause you to cough up blood, explains Mayo Clinic.
It adds: “Sometimes bleeding can become severe. Treatments are available to control bleeding.”
Blood isn’t the only symptom to look out for when you cough. One of the first things to look for is if your cough has lasted for three weeks or more.
You should also be wary of a change in a cough you’ve had for a long time.
Macmillan outlines other symptoms of lung cancer to watch out for:
- A chest infection that doesn’t get better, or repeated chest infections
- Feeling breathes and wheezy for no reason
- Chest or shoulder pain that doesn’t get better
- A hoarse voice for three weeks or more
- Losing weight for no obvious reason
- Feeling extremely tired
- The ends of fingers change shape – they may become larger or rounded (known as clubbing)
Another symptom people may not recognise as being linked to lung cancer is swelling in the face.
Swelling in the face can be a result of a superior vena cava obstruction.
The superior vena cava is a large vein in the chest which carries blood from the upper half of the body into the heart.
A superior vena cava obstruction happens when something blocks this blood flow, explains Macmillan.
The British charity adds on its website: “Superior vena cava obstruction is usually caused by lung cancer near to this vein. The cancer may be pressing on the vein or it may have spread to the lymph nodes nearby, causing them to swell.
“It can also be caused by a blood clot blocking the vein. This can happen if you’re having treatment through a central line.”
How do you treat superior vena cava?
Treatment may vary – a small tube can be put in the vein to keep it open, or radiotherapy or chemotherapy are also options.
Because lung cancer doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms until it has spread through the lungs or to other parts of the body, the outlook for the condition is not as good as other types of cancer.
The NHS says: “Overall, about one in three people with the condition live for at least a year after they’re diagnosed and about one in 20 people live at least 10 years.
“However, survival rates can vary widely, depending on how far the cancer ha spread at the time of diagnosis. Early diagnosis can make a big difference.”